Menu
Settings
DARKLIGHT
Text Size:

What is the Hineni Learning Tool?

Hineni is a unique, interactive, web-based tool that gives users a simple, ergonomic, and fast way to get information about Jewish death practices. The word, Hineni, is the transliteration of a Hebrew phrase used in the Torah, meaning "Here I am." It was chosen to indicate this tool is here to give succinct, direct answers to everyone quickly and easily. Hineni is intended to be used by various audiences, starting with (1) with those who directly serve families (funeral directors, cemetery workers, hospice personnel, Jewish clergy, chaplains, death doulas, and hospital personnel, who want to learn more to be better able to serve Jewish families and who want to assist families in making end-of-life decisions), and (2) families facing death of a loved one who wish to learn more about our traditions. We also envision community leaders using this tool as they prepare drashot for services, lectures, or classes, along with Chevrah Kadisha workers who want to expand their abilities to share these practices with their community. Additional possible users could include bnei mitzvot classes and their teachers, chevrah leaders, chevrah volunteers, local education champions,  Jewish community lay leaders, Jewish and non-Jewish clergy, JADE helpline responders, and synagogue caring committee members. Acknowledgements The Hineni tool was developed by the JADE staff as a part of ongoing community educational efforts to find the best ways to disseminate and share knowledge about Jewish end-of-life practices, rites, customs, and traditions. An acknowledgement of the contribution of our staff is shown below.
Concept:
Rick Light
Prototype:
Rick Light
Coordination:
Isabel Knight
Content:
HollyBlue Hawkins, Rick Light
Editing:
Rick Light, David Zinner
Marketing
Isabel Knight, Susan Kramer
Implementation:

Vidui – Final Thoughts

A Deeper Understanding

Introduction


Recitation of vidui is a means of spiritually acknowledging the transition of the soul to the next world.

We see a similar theme in the traditional prayers said before going to sleep at night where we engage in a daily retrospective; giving us an opportunity to go to sleep peacefully, having set aside any accumulated ill will towards others. This intimate, personal prayer specifically addresses hard feelings that either take the form of resentment for offenses we have felt, as well as shame or regret for having done harm to anyone else. This nightly routine clears the pathway for sleep unencumbered by negative feelings.

Details


Vidui is traditionally said on one’s death bed either by the dying person themselves or someone else on their behalf. In the Ethics of the Fathers (Pirkei Avot) it suggests one should “make amends the day before you die…”

Since, for all of us our day of death is unknown, one should make amends every day. The prayers we say before going to sleep (sleep is considered in the Talmud as a 1/60th of death) help us make amends every day. The vidui and similar kinds of prayers can be a source of comfort and completion.

The Deathbed Vidui includes an acknowledgement that life and death are in God’s control. Historically throughout Jewish literature in both Sefardic and Askenazi sources, as well as in various contemporary introductions to the Vidui, practitioners are reminded to assure the patient that recitation of the Vidui can have a atoning effect in addition to clearing the pathway for a “good death.”

There are many ways to acknowledge one's path through life as we face death. The traditional approach considers our death as an atonement for any sins that we might have committed in this life. More modern versions of the vidui are focused on healing relationships and feelings between the dying and their children, siblings, spouses, and friends. Some versions include a bit of "ethical will" in their wording, as a means to affirm and share one's beliefs, values, life-view, and legacy.

Vidui can have a crucial healing effect.   According to Tractate Shabbat 31a, “…After departing from this world, when a person is brought to judgment for the life he lived in this world… [the first question they will be is asked is], Did you conduct business honorably?”  Clearly, there is an assumption that how we conduct relationships in this lifetime has considerable weight in the next.

The personal and collective spiritual housekeeping that each and all of us performs is a vital aspect of the Tikun Olam (healing the world)  to which the Jewish people aspire. The prayer of vidui helps us transition to the next world while healing the path we have led in this life.

 

Resources to Learn More

  • An excellent website dedicated to modern versions of the vidui is Alison Jordan's website, ViduiVariations.


 

Vidui is a deathbed confessional prayer providing an opportunity to acknowledge our mistakes and ask forgiveness from God as well as our family. The deathbed is a time to review our successes, our passions, and our wisdom accumulated over a lifetime.   Vidui reminds us that our relationships with God and others matter more than material possessions or accomplishments.

Click on icons below to learn about this topic from different perspectives.

Practical

Textual

Emotional

Spiritual

Vidui from the Practical / Physical Perspective

The vidui at the deathbed includes an acknowledgement that life and death are in God’s control and is a confessional prayer asking for forgiveness. Throughout Jewish literature in both Sefardic and Askenazi sources, as well as in various contemporary introductions to the vidui, those who say it and those who hear it are reminded that God has the capacity to forgive and accept atonement.

Vidui from the Intellectual / Textual Perspective

There is a traditional text for the vidui ritual.  Some Jews create their own version of this custom that reflects their life view and wisdom.   There are several places in Jewish liturgy where the liturgical themes of vidui appear.
  • Firstly, in the  weekday Shacharit (morning service)- in the section called Tachanun.
  • Secondly, in the bedtime Shema (declaration of faith).
  • Thirdly, in the communal Al Chet (we have sinned) prayers on Yom Kippur.
  • Finally, in the deathbed vidui, when death is close.

Vidui from the Emotional / Feelings Perspective

There are many ways to acknowledge one's path through life as we face death. The traditional approach considers our death as an atonement for any sins that we might have committed in this life. More modern versions of the vidui are focused on healing relationships and feelings between the dying and their children, siblings, spouses, and friends. Some versions include a bit of "ethical will" in their wording, as a means to affirm and share one's beliefs, values, life-view, and legacy.  

Vidui from the Spiritual / Soul Perspective

Recitation of vidui is a means of spiritually acknowledging and preparing for the transition of the soul to the next world. It is a sort of havdala ceremony separating this life from the one about to be entered.

Return to Overview

Deeper Understanding

Return to Topic